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As the letter points out, because of cuts by both Liberal and Conservative governments, only 40% of unemployed workers receive EI at any given time. The current federal government has repeatedly promised to improve EI, but has yet to deliver. 

Ottawa (21 Dec. 2022) — In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other members of the cabinet, a coalition of labour and community groups, including the National Union of Public and General Employees, called for the federal government to keep its promises to improve Employment Insurance (EI). As the letter points out, because of cuts by both Liberal and Conservative governments, only 40% of unemployed workers receive EI at any given time.

The current federal government has repeatedly promised to improve EI, but has yet to deliver. 

Expanded access and improved benefits needed

The letter includes a number of proposals to strengthen the EI program, so that it once again provides a safety net for people who are out of work. These proposals include allowing more people who are unemployed to access the program through measures like a universal 360-hour qualifying rule, ending unfair disqualification rules, and allowing workers who are misclassified as self-employed to access the program. Proposals to improve benefits include raising the rate to 55% of income, and settting a minimum benefit so workers with low-incomes aren’t left with not enough to live on.

Federal government needs to help workers in tough economic times

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the problems with the current EI system became too obvious to ignore. It was also clear that improvements to income support programs, like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and temporary improvements to EI meant the economic impact of the pandemic was far less serious than feared. 

With the possibility of a recession, the federal government needs to make sure that EI provides a real safety net for people who lose their jobs. It’s what workers deserve and it’s what the economy needs.

How to make your voice heard

People can also let the government and Members of Parliament (MPs) know that they want EI reform to be a priority. Information that people can use in messages to cabinet ministers and MPs to make EI work for workers can be found on the Justice for Workers website. It is also worth calling your elected representatives and phone numbers for MPs and cabinet ministers are also availabile on the Justice for Workers website.